FROSTBURG — Of all the stars clustered on the Mountain Ridge softball team, Carlie Lewis was the anchor around which the others revolved. Whether at the plate or on the hill, it was often Lewis that was leading the charge towards yet another undefeated season and another handful of championships.
The coaches in the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference honored Lewis last year by splitting their player of the year honors with her catcher Taylor Llewellyn, so it’s no surprise that they returned to the same face that had been staring them down from the pitcher’s all year to honor Lewis with her second AMAC Player of the Year Award in as many seasons.
Being honored along side her are teammate Emma Baker as the AMAC’s Offensive Player of the Year and Allegany’s Courtney Landis as Defensive Player of the Year.
The All-AMAC team and it’s Player of the Years are decided by the conference’s nine head softball coaches.
There may be no simpler way to describe the senior’s control over opposing players than by making one single comparison.
Strikeouts as a pitcher: 173.
Strikeouts as a hitter: 0.
“Playing the entire regular season and not having a strikeout is almost unheard of,” said Martha Mauzy, Lewis’ head coach for the past four years. “Carlie has an excellent eye for the strike zone whether it is pitching or batting.”
A .490 batting average (24-for-49) will attest to her batting eye, and when Lewis got her pitch, and often even when she didn’t as evidenced by only six walks, it’s usually going somewhere fast. Almost half of her 24 hits went for extra bases, including five home runs. She also hit three triples and three doubles, and accomplished the rare feat of having more runs batted than (27) than hits.
Lewis may have been even more dominant as a pitcher than she was as a hitter, and her head coach was willing to give even higher praise.
“Carlie is one of the best pitchers to come out of our area; her maturity was very evident the past two seasons. She kept her poise on the mound and was able to pitch her way out of some tight situations, especially in the playoff games.
“Our outstanding pitching coach, Mike Layman has done an excellent job helping her to learn how to get out of a jam. Carlie loves to pitch and has worked extremely hard to accomplish all that she has, and she deserves all the praise that anyone can give her for she has accomplished much in her four short years at Mountain Ridge.”
Lewis posted an unblemished record as a pitcher in the AMAC, throwing a total of nine shutouts over 119 innings. She fanned 173 batters, walked 24 and finished with an earned run average of 1.23.
Mountain Ridge’s junior second baseman may have annoyed more pitchers than any other hitter in the area.
She collected 30 hits in 49 conference at bats for a batting average of .612, and wasn’t limited to slapping singles as she also connected for two home runs and eight doubles. Batting third in the Miners’ lineup all season, Baker drove in 28 runs.
“Emma is without a doubt one of the best all around players that we have had at Mountain Ridge High School, Mauzy said.
“She not only leads by example, but she leads by her actions. Emma is not only a super player she is an superior individual. She is always one of the first players to help a teammate that may be having a problem. She is always right there with positive encouragement.”
Now in her second year as the varsity second baseman, Baker showed her all around game by going the entire season without making an error.
Baker hit a triple and a double, and scored two runs during the Miners 9-8 win over Colonel Richardson in the Maryland 1A State Championship.
“Emma has great bat control, and she had the highest batting average on our team. Any time our team need a big hit, Emma would find a way to come up with it.”
Allegany Head Coach Rick Twigg often got into contests with his senior short stop where he would try to ground balls past her in practice.
He usually lost.
“Her work ethic was amazing,” said Twigg. “I would hit balls in practice just to stretch her out and get her to understand that her range was limited only by her effort.
“Court would get to balls deep in third base hole and the second base hole that we as coaches just sat there and said, ‘How does that happen? That should have been a hit.’ ”
Her effort in the field very often translated to succes at the plate as well. Landis finished her final year with the Campers by leading the team with a .451 batting average and an on-base percentage of .500. She had a total of 21 hits against AMAC opponents, collecting four doubles, three triples and one home run to go with 13 singles.
“I have been around Court since she was a young girl, Twigg said. “It has been such a pleasure to watch her grow as a person and a student athlete. As a senior tri-captain she came to work every day with the attitude that she was going to do something today that made her better than she was yesterday, whether it was with the glove or the bat. If I had a team MVP, without a doubt it would have been Courtney.”
Chris is a sportswriter for the Times-News. Contact him at email@example.com.